Which Option for Publishing the Liz Strauss eBook Would You Choose?

Content and Context of Relationships

The Living Web

When I got to the final edit of my eBook, I found something that surprised me. What I saw was that the Introduction makes a nice piece with 20 or so pages on blogs and blogging culture, focused on listening to the conversation with about 4-6 pages of how to say “hello.”

What I have could be an ebook on writing a successful blog with a power-packed introduction, or I could break out the introduction into a smaller book for people who are beginning to learn the Internet culture.

My brain is filtering three options. Should I

  1. Make two separate titles. One of 24 pages and one of 40-48 pages?
    The Upside: The little book could make a nice sales piece for folks who are looking to leave something with a potential social media customer. Or the little book, could lead folks to read the bigger book right after. Two books always appear to be worth more value than one.
    The Downside: Used that way, the two books wouldn’t necessarily serve the same readers. Some readers might see only one as useful.
  2. Offer the introduction as a free report to sell the longer version?
    The Upside: a free report can do a lot to promote the entire book.
    The Downside: The intro would have to change a bit to feature what else the book offers for folks to make an informed buying decision.

All else being equal, the publishing business decision would definitely be the first one. Offering two books is offering two opportunities to buy. However, publishing decision like this one need the input of people who know more than I do. I asked many folks for their opinions . . .

I’ve named the responses by the experience and clientele of the responders. Each response below represents more than one person’s insight and opinion.

The Social Media Guru Responses : This guy works works on high power social media change initiatives. His response was that the real meat is in the writing — the back end of the entire document. He suggested answer 2 — the intro as a free report.

The Social Media and Tech Scholar / Trainer Responses: She works mostly with organizations who are ready, but just starting to build a social web presence. She said she saw the need for something like it. She said 40+ more pages on how to write would overwhelm her audience. Her answer was option 1.

The Offline Communications Business CEO Responses: She and her staff plan strategies with clients who still think in terms of print. Most don’t have a blog. Her response to the idea of the document was that she could use it because her clients need small steps to get here. She voted for option 1 before she even read them.

To summarize: The guru thinks the intro is lightweight. The Scholar / Trainer thinks the people she works are overwhelmed by too much information. The Offline Business Communications CEO wants a separate document that moves in small steps. It seems the clientele we’re looking at changes the response.

Which option would you choose or do you see another one?

–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!
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  1. says

    I propose a variant of option 2. Why not make the introduction into a blog post, or a series of blog posts, each of which links to a place to purchase the eBook? A free report does not spread as well as a blog post in an RSS feed, which can then be shared, stumbled, or otherwise spread.

  2. says

    I was just about to suggest the #2 in a blog post when Ontario suggested it. It can certainly spread quicker/easier, all the while showing some of the value of the larger, paid version.

    Something about that feels very Seth Godin to me too, and that’s usually a good thing long term. 😎

    Good luck!

  3. says


    I would say it may depend if you are planning on doing more ebooks in the future. With the two books divided, they may fit with other books better in the future, with one geared more towards another audience in the future.

    I also like #1 because I think it’s better to be more concise with readers. Once a reader values your writing style, I think they will consider other topics that may not be exactly what they want, but they know they will get something out of and it will be a good read.

    Option number 1 I feel is just better, but you couldn’t loose going with option 2 either.

    Let us know what you decide Liz.

    Vicky H

  4. says

    um. Wouldn’t your downside for option one be the reason for going that way? If one or the other is what a particular person needs, you have broken it in the perfect way. If someone wants both, then they get both. That way you are allowing for a or b or a and b people. Three “groups” who would feel well served.

  5. says

    Hi Liz,

    A couple of questions:

    From a content perspective, is this one book or two? Will the longer book be weakened by the loss of the intro? If so, make it one book and use the intro as a free chapter/report or break it down into a 7 day free e-course, using a different sales blurb about the book on each email.

    From your reader’s perspective, are the sections for two different audiences? Beginning bloggers and more advanced? If so, then it might be best to have them be separate products. You could offer the first section as a $7 report for beginners, and add a more targeted intro for the longer ebook.

    From a business standpoint two products are not always better than one. You want your main ebook to be as good as it can be, because you’re also looking at the lifetime value of a customer. You want to have as much perceived value as you can for the longer book. The intro then becomes a strong selling point.

    Or… just thought of another option to throw in the mix: If you sell them separately, you can throw in the smaller report “for free,” and get some mileage out of that, or simply have it be one of the bonuses for the longer report. That way you can both sell it to beginning bloggers, as a separate piece, and have it be perceived as adding extra value to the longer ebook, both as more targeted information, and something of real value because you’re selling it as a stand-alone piece.

    Decisions, decisions, decisions.

    Julie Isaac

  6. says

    Hi Julie,
    I’m thinking about all that you said here. Most of these thoughts have been on my mind for the last two weeks. I’m publishing product person so I see the extreme value of your analysis.

    The question here is the level of sophistication on the part of the new and enterring bloggers. I think I just need to do more research on this.

  7. says


    Option 2 is what I instinctively went for.

    If you plan to charge for your e-book, have a free report to get them used to your style, personality and then at the end of that report, have a call to action leading them to buy the full e-book.

    My strategy for myself will be entirely different. I plan to follow the Seth Godin model of making my e-book free (and hopefully it’ll spread far and wide to enough eyes that will generate a pent up demand for when the hard cover copy comes out). It worked well for him and countless others.

  8. says

    Hi Liz, I am struggling with a similar issue on some of my own products. It seems to me that you have an opportunity to collaborate with three experts in order to create custom-tailored products for three different markets. I suspect that you could have a series of 6+ pieces on your hands:
    1. “An Introduction to Advanced Social Media”
    2. “High-powered Social Media Change for Business”
    3. “An Introduction to the Social Web” (parts I-??)
    4. “What’s a Blog for Anyway? An Introduction to Internet Communication”
    5. “Intermediate Social Media Training for Business”

    I would submit that titles like these, with audience-appropriate content and language in each piece would make for a stronger brand. A larger library provides more opportunity for sales.

  9. says

    “My brain is filtering three options…”

    And the third option is?

    Personally I recommend that you sell both!

    Compile a new introductory document to give away for free.

    Add substance to the first volume and sell to beginners. Upsell during checkout to include the second volume and sell the latter volume separately too.

    People who are not ready for the more advance content may choose to get the intro plus something to get started.

    Of course, I haven’t seen it so I may think otherwise after reading it.

  10. says

    What wonderful advice you’re receiving, Liz. For what it’s worth, the model I’m currently considering is the white paper first to build the list for the eBook later.

    I’m eager to hear your decision and to READ what you have to say in ANY format.

  11. says

    Hi Stephen,
    Forgive the delay please . . . I’ve been mulling over everyone’s comments for days.

    I’d love to use Seth’s strategy, but I’m not Seth. I’m also going in other directions than Seth is.

    This eBook is only a start. :)

  12. says

    Hi Hendry,
    What this conversation has done is made me go back to stare hard at what the book really is and where its real value lies. That is what determined my final decision on both the format and the price.

    Your strategy is also a strong publishing model. I hope folks who are looking to publish are listening to what you’re suggesting.

  13. says

    Thank you for the vote of confidence Liz. I really got a lot from our chat on Friday. I am looking forward to collaborating with you when I launch my blog/marketing site in August.

    BTW click my name to follow on Twitter. There is some super stuff in the pipe, I promise!!

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